Winter is that time of year when many of us retreat to the warmth of our homes, and the garden can suddenly become an afterthought. With the lack of colour from many perennial plants during this time of year, it can feel a little less exciting. Well, prepare to be excited… as this is when annuals and other Winter flowering perennials are a real stand out in the garden. The vibrancy of their blooms can brighten up any gloomy, dark garden space.Planting flowering annuals is one of the best ways to add an injection of colour into a display or design as they can be grown in all sorts of containers, hanging baskets and be planted out on mass for a seasonal display. However, annuals are not the only colourful plant in the garden. Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Hellebores and Cyclamen are just a few other of my favourites.
There is nothing else quite like an Azalea in full bloom. The vibrancy and beauty of their flowers make them a real stand out and a key player in any garden design. Best grown in a sheltered shaded position in the garden protected from the late hot afternoon sun is ideal. They prefer humus-rich soil, which is free-draining with the addition of fertiliser throughout the prime growing seasons. Azaleas look stunning as a feature-stand-alone plant as they contrast beautifully when in full bloom against other evergreen perennials.
Famous as an indoor plant, these unique flowering perennials do best when planted out in the garden or kept outdoors in pots. In nature, Cyclamen come from a very cold habitat and the humid conditions of the rocky areas of the Mediterranean. Their flowers are incredibly vibrant, with colours ranging from hot pinks to soft pale tones, red, salmon, purple, bi-colours and pure white. Some varieties have a sweet fragrance.
Primula acaulis, also known as Polyanthus or Primrose, is a great flowering annual for a shaded position in the garden. Or even better…. pots! They love to be grown in rich soil with good drainage. If too wet, they can be at risk of rotting. The wonderful thing about these plants they are very much like herbaceous perennials; they flower throughout the Winter; then their lush green leaves will die to ground level in the Summer. The roots stay alive during that time. They will re-emerge with healthy growth in the following Winter and flower all over again. There are some stunning colours to choose from, which can brighten any spot in the garden!
Primula malacoides is a dainty, elegant plant that flowers from mid-winter through to the later spring months. Like the Viola and Pansies, these plants will self-seed during Summer when the main plant begins to die. These can be a little…. invasive in the garden, but their lollipop stems of colourful blooms are worth it! They are such a staple in my garden, and I love seeing them flower!
Pansies & Viola
Violas and Pansies are a great way to add a splash of colour into the garden during Winter when most plants sit dormant. However, their colourful blooms don’t just flower for Winter. These little beauties can continue blooming until November. If… they are looked after right.
Keep them fertilised once a month with a liquid feed and ‘deadhead’ (remove old flowers) to keep them blooming.
In late November, when the plants begin to look tired and die, keep the old flower heads on the plants, resulting in the plants producing seeds. Allow the seeds to fall, and they will sit dormant in the soil. The fallen seeds will germinate and flower the following year again!
Bonnie-Marie worked at Gardenworld Nursery for 11 years, and she loves sharing her passion with other green thumbs.